Editorial: Obituaries - a window into a lifetime

Obituaries are a window into a person’s lifetime and every time we read one we learn something new. This week is no exception.
One of the “obits” on page four is for Mary Jokela who back in 1943 was 19-year-old Mary Tonkovich. With World War II raging on, Mary was called upon to be a spotter for the U.S. Forest Service in Ely.
Near the old city dump, she would climb up the stairs to the top of a fire lookout tower to keep a keen eye out for smoke.
“The towerman is the key figure in the vigilance of the timber stands, with lookout points located in strategic places throughout the Superior National Forest,” the Duluth Herald wrote.
Mary would go on to work in the accounting department of the Oliver Iron Mining Company in Ely for three years. She later married Harold Jokela and had a son, Duane, who shared some photos of his mother in the fire tower.
That snippet of a life was captured in this week’s obituaries, along with several others. Each one is worth reading, whether you knew that person or not. This is likely the last time their name will be featured in the newspaper.
They lived, loved, worked and were a part of the world we still live in. To be able to learn a little bit about them after they are gone can add to the sadness, but it can also help us understand the world we live in just a little bit more.
Even from someone who climbed a fire tower each day.